Published on: 05 September 2017

Remarks by Minister Bushati at the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers of the SEECP - Bled, Slovenia

5 September 2017

 

Dear Karl,

I want to thank you for this meeting in Bled and for the commitment of the Slovenian Chairmanship to EU Enlargement, stability and economic progress in our region. 

Over the years the SEECP has been our matrix of regional cooperation and we have achieved a lot together. However, I think we are past the point where it was an achievement to sit on the same table and discuss peacefully. 

I would like to briefly emphasize today, what I see as the three main risks we are collectively running in this region:

The 1st risk, in my opinion, is to lose sight of our strategic goal: that of EU accession.

Over the past few days Federica has insisted on the fact that the Balkans as a whole is an EU priority, and I want to thank her for this courageous stance on enlargement - we all know this is not a popular topic. But it is now clear that we must get over the restrictive narrative (no enlargement within this mandate of the EU commission) and work to achieve a true timetable of EU accession for the Western Balkans, with goals and deadlines. 

The 2nd risk is to produce more political cooperation in the region without any concrete deliverables for our citizens, either in terms of security, economic development or social convergence. 

From Albania’s perspective, the main lesson from the 4 years old Berlin Process in the Western Balkans is that regional cooperation really works when it delivers for the citizens. We should use this lesson to streamline the numerous mechanisms of regional cooperation.

That is why Albania took the initiative for convening a meeting of PMs of the WB countries in Durres. It is important that we show local ownership and leadership, particularly in following up the commitments for regional cooperation in the area of economy and trade. 

Yet, initiatives for strengthened economic ties can be successful only if there is progress in the normalisation of relations between the countries in the region and if the countries deliver on the commitments made to normalise relations.

The 3rd risk, is to think that we can sacrifice Democratic rule of law on the altar of security and stability. EU accession is not about stabilitocracy. We used to know this back in the 1990’s and there is no reason to think otherwise today.

Clearly, our countries should strengthen their commitment to rule of law reforms. Albania is firmly committed to the implementation of a deep and thorough reform of the justice system. We expect this reform to have a huge impact on the fight against corruption and organised crime. We look forward to a positive effect of these steps on the opening of EU accession negotiations in the months ahead.

But to respond to the complex challenges including those directly linked to rule of law and security we need to focus more on human development, by providing more opportunities for our youth, to strengthen social cohesion and economic development. 

Only by bridging the development gap between the EU and our region, can we achieve both resilience and sustainability. In the current security situation, where radicalization and terrorism know no borders, our security is strongly related and dependent on the effective policies of our neighbors. 

One last word about the future of this organization: as the most important regional forum, the SEECP should continue to work on the basis of all-inclusiveness and equality. This is our approach as regards the candidacies for the future chairmanships of this initiative. As a full-flagged member Kosovo deserves to get the chairmanship. Any discrimination against Kosovo in this regard would undermine this forum’s efficiency.

Thank you.

 

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